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Source: Yemen Times

Houthis welcomed the formation of the ten-member negotiation committee that President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi established on Wednesday, after a meeting with members of parliament, the Shura Council, and cabinet ministers.

President Hadi convened an urgent meeting in the presence of state leaders on Wednesday morning, calling for immediate action to put an end to escalating tensions between the Houthis and the government.

He spoke about the possibility of forming a national unity government, and called for the military to be on red alert. He also asserted protecting the republican regime and democracy and stressed the imminent need to introduce political reforms, according to sources attending the meeting.

A presidential committee was established to solve the conflict between the Houthis and the government.

The committee is headed by Dr. Ahmed Obaid Bin Dagher and includes Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi as a spokesperson, Sultan Al-Barakani, Yahya Mansur Abu Osba, Abdulhameed Hareez, Nabeela Al-Zubair, Mohammed Qahtan, Mubarak Al-Bahar, Abdulaziz Jubari and Hassan Zaid.

In a conversation with the Yemen Times, Ali Al-Qahoom, deputy spokesperson of the Houthis, confirmed, “The presidential committee will meet with the Houthis’ leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi on Thursday morning to negotiate the terms aimed at toppling the regime.”

Houthis demands

Sources told the Yemen Times that the Houthis’ demands were: Inclusion of 20,000 Houthi members in the military, allocation of 10 ministries to the Houthis, delay of the disarmament of their weapons and change in Azal region to includeHajja and Al-Jawf governorates   

 Ali Al-Qahoom, a member of the Houthis’ Media Office, informed the Yemen Times that Abdulmalik Al-Houthi is still waiting for a response to those demands.

Since Monday morning the Houthis continued to flock to Sana’a governorate threatening to besiege the capital.

The attacks set to take place are viewed in similar light to the ones on Sana’a in late 1967, when an attempt was made by supporters of the Imamate to regain control after the Imam’s rule was toppled in 1962.

The Houthis announced Friday as the deadline for President Hadi to reverse the decision of increasing fuel subsidies and dismiss the government.

The Houthis have set up tents along  the borders of Sana’a to prepare for their entrance to the city on Friday, oust the government and take a U-turn on fuel price increases.

Houthis’ congregations

The Houthis mainly gather in the northern, southern and western entrances of Sana’a city and include thousands of gunmen.

Houthis have created several checkpoints in Al-Subaha area, near the official security checkpoints.

Yemen Times staff got access to one of the Houthi camps in Al-Subaha and met some of the group’s members.

“We will not go back unless the government is ousted and the decree to lift the fuel subsidies is abolished and we will enter Sana’a on Friday to achieve these demands,” said Abu Hamza, head of the organizing committee in Al-Subaha area.

“We assure the people in Sana’a that we will not enter Sana’a for war, or to control it, but only to oust the government. We call on all people in Sana’a to join us,” added Abu Hamza.

Ahmed Al-Khawlani, a protester sitting in one of the Houthis’ tents in Hiziz, at Sana’a’s southern entrance, said, “We are waiting here in the tents. We have our guns but we will not use them against the people. We will use the guns only against those who attack us.”

“If Hadi will not oust the government, we will topple him and appoint a new one,” he added.

Tents at the southern entrance of the capital in Hiziz area are located near the Reserve Forces camp on the highway that connects Sana’a, Dhamar, Ibb and Taiz.

Additionl tents located at Sana’a’a northern entrances near Al-Azraqeen area on Sana’a-Amran highway have been reported by  Adel Hussein Nasser, an Amran resident. “I work in Sana’a and on the way from Amran to Sana’a I saw thousands of gunmen setting camps determined to control the capital.”

Houthis presence in Sana’a

Houthis from various governorates came to Sana’a capital on Monday to pitch their tents in Change Square, Al-Khamseen Street and Al-Safia area, near Taiz Street.

“Our presence in Sana’a is to support the gatherings that came from governorates located on the borders of Sana’a,” said Yazeed Ali Yahya, a Houthi armed man in Change Square.

“Friday will be an important day in Sana’a when our followers located on the borders will enter Sana’a, and we will meet them, and the capital will be full of us. We will become a bigger force, so that President Hadi will meet our demands,” said Yahya.

Political action and international response

As a response to the Houthis’ escalating demands a number of political actions have been launched to stop the Houthis who are determined to usurp Sana’a on Friday.

The ten countries supporting the Gulf Initiative, including the five permanent members in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the European Union (EU), expressed their concerns on Tuesday after hearing the latest statements that Al-Houthi had released. The sponsors of the Gulf Initiative, which go by the name of G10 ambassadors, dismissed the Houthis actions in a public statement as “antagonistic, militaristic, and disrespectful of this transition process and of the authority of the legally established Yemeni government.”

The G10 ambassadors reiterated, “any action that aimed to incite or provoke unrest and violence is unacceptable, and will be strongly condemned by the international community.”

“We furthermore reiterate the demand made by the Security Council on July 11 that the Houthis withdraw and relinquish territory acquired by force and hand over heavy weapons and ammunition pillaged from military facilities to the national authorities,” the statement said.

Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, the leader of the Houthi group, said on Monday in a televised speech on  Al-Masira TV Channel, “we will open the protest camps and squares in Sana’a, and the capital will witness extensive marches until Friday, and if the relevant authorities do not respond by next Friday, we have to put severe measures into place… Those will certainly include irritating steps for everyone who underestimates the people.”

Houthis are demanded in the G10 statement to stop the escalation against the Yemeni government and withdraw from the lands they had previously controlled.

“Friday is a decisive day, when the capital will fill with crowds that will replace the government, and it will be a historical day in the lives of Yemenis,” said Ali Al-Emad, a member in Ansar Allah’s political office, to the Yemen Times.

He declared that people from all governorates had moved to the borders of Sana’a, an act he sees as a strong testimony for the Houthis’ popular support.

President Hadi had convened with a number of tribal leaders in Sana’a on Tuesday to urge them to protect the capital from the Houthis.

Major concerns

Several foreign embassies in the capital, including Britain, Canada, India, and the United States, have urged their nationals to leave Sana’a, and those currently residing in the capital have been requested to take the necessary precautions.  

Within Sana’a, some residents are apprehensive the threats will escalate into a civil war. Some have started to buy essentials , while others have prepared to leave to their villages in other governorates.

“I rushed to buy a ration and many gas cylinders, lest they become scarce because of the upcoming clashes between the Houthis and the army,” feared Mohammed Obadi, a Sana’a resident.

With increasing pressure on the government to act, Yemeni citizens are desperate to hear on a viable solution from President Hadi.

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